Research published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood finds overall improvement in survival rates of preterm babies

New research shows that overall survival rates for very preterm babies have shown steady improvement in England over the last two decades, particularly for infants of the lowest gestations. However, the findings reveal regional variation which is masked by overall improvements. Authors say further investigation is needed into the reasons for these inconsistencies. 

Professor Neena Modi, Lead of the Medicines for Neonates Investigator Group, said: “Preterm birth is the number one cause of neonatal death worldwide.

“Using a unique resource, the National Neonatal Research Database, we show that In the UK survival rates for very preterm babies, born more than two months early, have shown steady improvement over the last two decades. This is a tribute to the dedication of healthcare professionals around the country and the families with whom they work. 

“However, unexpectedly our study found that the overall improvement in the survival of very preterm babies is hiding significant regional variation,  with improvements seen in London and the South of England. This unexplained north-south divide requires further investigation in order to identify the reasons behind the variation and promote improvement more uniformly across the country.”

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The paper can be read in full in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood.